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Public History MA

The MA Public History combines cutting-edge, research-led knowledge of the way history is produced and engaged with in public contexts, with training in the practices through which public historical understanding is created and communicated. 

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Study Mode Full-time or Part-time available
Tuition Fees UK: £12,900 / Overseas: £26,600 (2022/2023)
Duration 1 year full-time / 2 years part-time 
Programme Starts September 2022 
Applications Accepted All applicants: 18 Oct 2021 – 13 May 2022
CampusThis programme is located at UCL East
Why study the MA Public History?

Students will benefit from UCL’s rich experience working with national heritage institutions, museums and media outlets, as well as local communities in London, and from the university’s own role as a public history provider (through its three on-campus museums and special collections). They will work with internationally-recognized practitioner-researchers in the fields of oral history, documentary film and radio, exhibition curation, digital history, historical dramatization and heritage-making. 

The approach of the MA in Public History is distinctively global and interdisciplinary. Students will be primarily based out of UCL East where they will work alongside those undertaking studies in the related fields of global urbanism, heritage studies, creative humanities, and media studies. They will first examine what public history means and how this changes over time and place, across distinct global contexts, exploring key concepts and debates centring on memory, heritage, history as activism, history as business, policy, and as institutional and community memory, as well as the arts and acts of remembrance. They will then focus on developing their practical public history skills in an area, or areas, of public history relevant to them, through project-based work in collaboration with one of UCL’s experienced practitioner-mentors. The programme’s emphasis on combining a theoretical framework with practice-based learning will allow students to critically self-reflect on their public history efforts as they produce them. 

How is the programme structured?

The programme is designed so you can develop your own personal trajectory within the field of public history, developing your practical skills in specific modes of public history practice as you extend and apply your critical understanding of them. In Term 1, you will gain a solid foundation in the concepts and debates relevant to public history, beginning to explore the distinct shapes it has taken across time and geography, and the distinct publics which not only consume but create historical understanding. You will learn about the commercial, community and political applications of historical knowledge, while also reflecting on how taking history public impacts on academic research and historiography. In Term 2, you will deepen your skills as a public history maker by researching and co-creating an assessed small public history project, mentored by experienced practitioners from within UCL and/or beyond. 

In both terms 1 and 2, you will be able to take recommended module options which will deepen:

  • your understanding of the diverse contexts in which public history is made, consumed and applied;
  • the history from which you intend to make public history outputs;
  • your practical knowledge of the various genres and spaces through which you intend to make public history.

The culmination of your studies will be a capstone public history research project, which you will focus on in Term 3. This project will allow you to combine your practical and/or historical and/or critical knowledge of public history. It is assessed by both a written piece of work and a public history output. However, before you commence your studies you will decide which element you wish to focus on more. The Public History Research Project: dissertation/output involves working on a 10,000 word research dissertation or public history report (70%) and accompanying public history output (30%, equivalent to work for a 5,000 word essay). The latter will comprise either an audio or video essay, or audio tour, OR a project proposal pitching a history radio programme, documentary television programme or immersive VR experience OR a history web resource (such as a blog, an online teaching resource or a small online exhibition).

Alternatively, if you decide on the Public History Research Project: output/report, you will focus on a public history output (70%, equivalent in work to a 10,000 word dissertation), accompanied by a 5,000 word reflective essay (30%). Subject to availability, your public history output will comprise either a podcast or documentary film, OR an audio tour, OR a script for an episodic history documentary or dramatized history documentary radio or television programme, OR a history web resource (such as a curated oral history collection, a teaching resource for schools, or a virtual exhibition). 

Careers: where can the MA Public History take you?

The programme is designed to teach many of the transferable skills that history MA programmes offer, and which provide a strong foundation for those hoping to undertake PhD research and an academic career. On top of this, the programme provides the transferable skills necessary to pursue a career in media, heritage, education, the civil service, the arts sector and business.

Debate, small group seminars and tutorials provide you with strong presentation and negotiation skills for your future career. Project-based work will help you learn how to collaborate, manage your time and workload effectively, while developing your competency in working independently – skills highly-prized by employers across a range of sectors. The media and digital skills training you acquire will develop your ability to communicate effectively across a wide range of genres and audiences. By learning with industry professionals and specialist practitioners, you will gain knowledge of a range of career pathways and possibilities for further networking. There are many additional activities available, both within the department and the wider UCL community, to help you focus on employability skills whilst you are here, for example departmental careers talks and networking opportunities with History alumni.

You can read more about the careers support offered by the department here

What will I study?

Students will complete a total of 180 credits. 

Compulsory Modules:

Optional Modules:

Students must take at least 30, and up to 60 credits, from List A. These are options that run in Terms 1 and 2 and which mainly focus on the critical study of public history. Each module counts for 15 credits. 

Students may also choose (where space and timetabling permit) up to 30 credits from List B. List B includes elective modules that develop the practical skills useful to making public history outputs, MA History module options, and new UCL East modules. These modules run in Terms 1 and 2 and (unless indicated) each count for 15 credits. 

List A
HIST0370 Public History, Slavery and Britain’s Colonial Past 
HIST0818 Remembering Conflict and Mass Violence 
INST0040 Oral History: Creation to Curation 
HIST0872 New Public Histories in Conflict-Affected Contexts 
HIST0870 Rethinking History on Screen 
HIST0882 Migrant City. Migration, Public History and London
HIST0848 Research and Writing Skills for MA History*
*Please note that students who have not completed a History undergraduate degree or who have not already met the learning outcomes for this research skills module must enrol on this course as one of their optional modules. 
List B
Elective Module OptionsMA History Modules Options (indicative)UCL East Module Options
ARCL0145 Archaeologies of Modern Conflict HIST0687 Animals and Modernity
 
BARC0192 East London Lab (2022/T1)
BARC0129: Histories of Global London, 1900 to the Present (1)HIST0626 Political Thought in Renaissance EuropeENGF0025 Find Your Future (2022/T1&2)
BARC0128: Histories of Global London, 1900 to the Present (2)HIST0353 The Public Sphere in Britain: Print Culture, Censorship and Propaganda A
 
COMP0153 Inclusive Design and Environments (2022/T2) 
ANTH0207 Sonic Experience Design and Production the Museum and Gallery Experience HIST0633 Propaganda and Ideology in Rome
 
COMP0232 Innovation for a Fairer World (2022/T2) 
ANTH0084 Documentary Radio – A practice-based introduction HIST0866 Challenging the Gender Binary in Modern Britain
 
PSYC0287 Exploring power, inclusion and exclusion with local communities (2022/T2) 
ANTH0138/9 Practical Documentary Filmmaking A/B HIST0361 Nations, States and Empires in Transnational Perspectives
 
CENG0062 Sustainability and decision-making (2022/T2)
CMII0127 Life ScriptingMDVL0071 The Crusades...a Clash of Civilizations
 
 
INST0006 Introduction to Digital Methods in the HumanitiesHIST0828 Topics in Economic History 

Contact Us 

Programme Administrator:
Ms Tabitha Cooper
Programme Tutor:
Dr Mark Frost 
Contact Email: 
history.programmes@ucl.ac.uk

Apply Now


Charlotte Sefton

"Public history has allowed me to apply my historical interests to contexts outside of the conventional textbooks. Alongside engaging with historiographical debates, we’re encouraged to explore topics through film, exhibitions, monuments, protests, podcasts and any other medium you can imagine. With guidance from insightful and encouraging UCL professors, I completed a research paper on the legacies of the transatlantic slave trade in my home city of Newcastle through examining local historical walking tours. Most importantly for me, my studies have provoked countless important conversations with friends about the ways we engage with our collective past."

- Charlotte Sefton, recent postgraduate student (MA History)

William Douch

"Studying public history at UCL provided me with a great opportunity to develop how I perceived history in the public space. The way certain historical topics are treated in these public spaces such as in museums, statues and other pieces of media is incredibly important in understanding public attitudes towards these topics. I found it particularly interesting to study how Britain’s colonial past and involvement in the transatlantic slave is treated in these public spaces and how the discussions around its treatment have changed over time. I also learnt the more practical applications of studying history, which helped me improve skills that I found beneficial in the museums and heritage sector."

- William Douch, recent postgraduate student (MA History)